Pipeline Blasts Lead to Jail Time


The Chinese government has sentenced 14, including former officials of a state-owned energy company and government officials, for corrosion-related pipeline blasts that killed more than 60 people in 2013.

Six local government officials were given three to five years in jail, while six other employees were sentenced up to five years behind bars, according to a report released Monday (Nov. 30) in the Today of Singapore citing China’s official news agency, Xinhua.

Two of the former employees of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) were given probation by the Shandong court, the report said.

All eight of the Sinopec officials were found guilty of violating safety regulations in operations and indirectly causing the explosions near Qingdao, Today reported. The six government officials—including Li Benzhe, the director of the Qingdao work safety bureau—were charged with dereliction of duty for failing to inspect the pipeline.

Former Sinopec Chairman Fu Fhengyu was given a demerit on his official record in 2014 for the pipeline disasters. Another 47 Sinopec officials also were disciplined, Today reported while citing Xinhua.

Pipeline Explosions

According to Reuters, 63 people were killed and another 156 were injured in two separate blasts along the Dongying-Huangdao II pipeline. The news agency also said the blast caused 751.7 million yuan (US$117.53 million) in damage.

At the time of the oil pipeline explosion, Chinese officials said it had been caused by corrosion; irregular work practices; and a tangled network of underground pipes, Reuters reported. It highlighted the risks involved in China’s rapidly growing cities, where urban areas now sprawl over existing pipelines.

The pipeline had experienced problems before the blasts, according to a Wall Street Journal article written shortly after the disaster. In 2010, Sinopec statements reported two accidents along the pipeline because of a buildup of trash on a section of it and illegal construction near it. The incidents caused spills on the pipeline that had been built in 1986, but no casualties, the WSJ said.

Sinopec said in 2010 that it spent 12 million yuan (about US$2 million) between 2005 and 2010 to fix severely corroded sections of the pipeline, the WSJ reported. The pipeline was capable of shipping 200,000 barrels of oil per day and ran about 250 kilometers (155 miles).

Chinese Growing Pains

According to Today, the recent sentences related to the Sinopec blast come as the country is trying to crack down on government officials after a rash of industrial disasters.

More recently, 173 were killed in Tianjin, China, after port warehouses exploded in August, Today reported. Another August explosion at an auto parts factory near Shanghai killed at least 75, and a poultry plant fire in June left 120 dead.


Tagged categories: China; Corrosion; Fatalities; Government; Oil and Gas; Pipelines; Quality Control

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